So BBB and I went out to drink our way to hell today at around 9:30am. We had breakfast and hopped on a cab to go to Maliandao.
We got there around…. 10:15? Something like that. Bright and early. We went into the Beijing Puerh Chadu — walked a circle around the whole place, saw thsi one store with an unknown factory (I think they’re called Yunnan Xiangming Factory) and tried two of their puerhs. One is a Yiwu, and the other is a Banzhang cake, both 2005, I believe. The Yiwu was definitely better than the Banzhang, which was just a bit sweet and nothing really interesting. Prices were, well, low, but since it didn’t quite exactly impress either of us, we didn’t buy anything.
So out we walked, and into the tea mall next to the Beijing Central Tea Company we went. We saw this wonderful zhuni pot — the thing felt like it was melting in our hand, it was so smooth. It was not cheap, and since I 1) didn’t bring enough cash and 2) didn’t really feel like bargaining for it, not yet anyway, I decided to stay off of it, but both of us agreed there was something nice about that pot going on there. We walked around what is essentially a rather sad little tea mall with nothing impressive to offer, and BBB kept remarking how most of the teaware stores basically sell the same stuff he sees in Winghopfung in LA — except cheaper.
We ended up in the Jingmin Chacheng, where I got some of my Wuyi tea last time. We went to the top floor to look at more teaware, since BBB is looking for something. Walked around, didn’t find much. Then we hopped into a few puerh stores to check their goods out, and didn’t see much of interest either. There are just SO MANY different kinds of cakes out there, most of which we’ve never heard of, that it’s almost impossible to go “ok, let’s try this”. Near the end of our walkaround, we did find one store with two cakes that he recognized. We ended up trying three cakes — one being better than the rest. It was a Dabaihao — Big White Buds — but the seller wouldn’t agree to a price drop to a level we wanted, so we walked again, no goods in hand. I was severely dehydrated because one of the teas was really drying and I felt water was being sucked out of my body.
Had lunch at a pretty busy place with semi-warm rice (nasty). BBB loved a chicken dish I ordered.
After lunch we went to two more stores on the streets where we browsed and tasted nothing. Then, in the third one, we saw a bunch of Yichang Hao cakes. Since I have rarely noticed them in my wanderings around Maliandao, we decided to give some of it a try. We tried one, a 2005 Zhenpin, which was decent, but somehow, the tea tasted like it was locking our throat. After we walked out, I once again felt it was a bit drying. I know this apparently happens with teas stored in drier weather — they tend to have this nasty effect of drying out your mouth and throat. It was not pleasant, and so I was drinking loads of water.
Then we went all the way to the end of Maliandao, to Chayuan Chacheng. I took him to the Mengku Rongshi store, where we sat for about two hours tasting different things and (mostly me) chatting with the owner.
We had four things there. The first was a Big Snow Mountain brick, 300g, that had some wild tea mixed in with regular stuff. It was, well, good. Then we had the 2000 Yuanyexiang, which was excellent, although I detected a hint of wet storage, and the owners admitted that it had briefly gone in wet storage before. It is by no means unpleasant, just that it has gone into wet storage once upon a time. Not too bad at the end of the day. I thought this tea doesn’t exist outside of Hong Kong, and was pleasantly surprised when they said they have a little bit left. The owner, I think, was surprised that I know it at all. Thanks Davelcorp for reminding me of the existence of this thing.
Then we had the 2002 Mengku cake that I talked about last time. Both BBB and I thought it was great. I don’t know how it will age, but as it is, it is already quite pleasantly drinkable, and I think it will probably turn into something better. The price, given the goods, was excellent. I think we’re going to buy some of this.
The last cake we tried was a 2001 production of their tea, similar in taste to the 2002, but somehow a little less impressive. It’s VERY tightly compressed, so maybe that’s partly why it doesn’t seem to be as good.
We decided to just ask for quotes and then come back in a day or two before making any purchases. We then spent a good bit of time walking around Chayuan Chacheng, trying to look for more teaware. There were some ok stuff, but nothing exciting. We also looked at some more tea, but decided that we’ve really tasted enough for the day.
At the end, we walked into a store thinking we’ll look for puerh, but surprisingly, they sell a LOT of dancong. It was a better selection than the other place that I went to, and I was pleasantly surprised when they pulled out something that I recognize as what I want. I ended up getting 125g of it. No bargaining, but oh well, they broke half of a standard pack because I didn’t want so much tea.
So, not entirely without acquisition, but the buying hasn’t started. Meanwhile, I think my stomach is not really agreeing to all this young puerh, and is giving me a little trouble. I should really be more judicious in drinking puerh next time I go.